Question of the Week

September 24, 2002  

"Strangers Are Not Always Evil Looking ... Child molesters and abductors usually look like everyday people. Tell your kids not to talk to adults they do not know. Anytime they are approached by an adult they should check with a parent or trusted adult immediately."

With the recent news attention given to child abductions around the country, many children and parents have been concerned. "How Child Molesters Gain A Child's Confidence. Often times they will befriend a child by asking for help. Some examples are: Asking to help find a lost pet; asking directions to someone's house; offering reward money for assistance; saying Mom or Dad have been hurt or need their help; acting like an undercover police officer (children should only approach uniformed police officers, and/or marked police cars). They may also gain your child's trust by very minor contacts over several days, such as saying hello to them repeatedly. Make sure your children know to tell you if a stranger is trying to make friends with them." Excerpts from "Parent's Guide to Preventing Child Abduction"

While these suggestions work well to help keep children safe from strangers, what can children and teens do to help themselves and their peers stay safe from acquaintances, and other people they may know? "School officials are taking another look at students who have been convicted of serious crimes following the alleged rape of a West High School girl at her school during class hours.... The 16-year-old girl was walking to class in a school hallway last week when a 16-year-old boy approached her, police said. He walked with her into a nearby stairway where he sexually assaulted her, police said.... The boy's 17-year-old sister was arrested Wednesday for allegedly attacking the girl involved at school.... In a criminal complaint, she told police she attacked the girl 'because she had my brother put in jail and she was out.'"

And who can forget Columbine... "Looking back, the clues were there. The obsession with weapons, war and
death. The endless rounds of bloody computer games. The vicious rantings on the Internet.... Students saw the signs. They saw the two with clubs and knives. Heard their essays and poems about suicide and murder. Heard
Harris talk at lunch about blowing up the school."

The country is on alert for terrorists. We are supposed to be alert and watching. While most children and teens will never come face to face with a terrorist, they may see a troubled classmate. They may see a back stairway in the school that doesn't seem safe. They may hear a friend talking about a nice man or woman they have just met... someone who wants to take them somewhere....

Most schools and most school days escape incident free. I want my school to be one of those schools. No one wants to tattle, but no one wants school to be an unsafe place for their friends or themselves.

Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.

I look forward to reading what you have to say.

[email protected]
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum

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